How to Become a New York Writer

Just being able to retrace the same city blocks that so many famous writers traversed is enough to inspire the next great American novel. Of course, the city was more affordable back then and most writers had an uncanny way of financially supporting themselves without actually working so they could devote every spare moment to writing or attending swanky parties. But if they could do it, so can you!

  1. You save up and borrow money and make the big move. You don’t mind listening to rats claw up the walls of your room that is the size of a parking space or catching sight of cockroaches scurrying behind the kitchen sink. In fact, you feel a kinship with them because, after all, they’re New Yorkers, too.
  1. So maybe you don’t have a trust fund and you’re not sleeping with an affluent patron of the arts who offers to pay for your meals and rent. Go out and find a full-time day job that almost pays the bills. Sure, it won’t have anything to do with writing or your interests, but you won’t be alone. Soon you’ll find that everyone else you encounter working dead-end jobs is also an aspiring writer – a constant reminder that you are just one of many, possibly destined for failure. This makes you feel dejected, which is great because everyone knows self-loathing is what fuels writers.
  1. Now you’re too tired at the end of the workday to get any writing done, so you wallow in your misery at a dive bar because you think this will mean the drinks are affordable. But nothing is affordable in New York, that’s part of its charm. However, it’s still a great city for developing a drinking problem! With so many people crowding the streets and subways no one ever notices you or the fact that you started carrying a flask in your coat pocket. It isn’t your fault the drink prices are so high. Besides, everyone knows the best writers were lushes, so why shouldn’t you be one too?
  1. While in the throes of a drunken stupor you stumble into a liquor store to replenish the whisky that was in your flask and you run into the man of your dreams. You invite him to drink with you at your apartment and you tell him about how you’re a writer. He asks to read some of your work, but you haven’t written anything that you’re proud of, so you just drink some more and blackout.
  1. When you awake, you learn a few things: 1.) He isn’t the man of your dreams and, in fact, is a dead ringer for your high school chemistry teacher who failed you, 2.) You told him you love him and invited him to move in with you even though you share your apartment with two other aspiring artists and 3.) You signed an application to adopt a rescue dog together.
  1. Congratulations! Now you’re on your way to accumulating some good material. You decide to take control of your life and start writing each morning before work and each evening after work. He calls you many times, but you don’t want to hurt his feelings, so you just don’t answer.
  1. You start attending literary readings and make some writer friends with the hope that they will help you meet some important publishing contacts and show their gratitude for your support by inviting you to read at one of their events. But this never happens and soon you find that you are going to events when you should be at home writing. Eventually, friends stop inviting you because you’ve become known as the angry drunk who just rails against New York and how you’ll never have time to write your novel. Someone overhears you describe the story that you don’t have time to write and he writes the book way better than you ever could. You read about him and his new book – your book – in the Sunday Book Review and you’re stunned by the similarities, but you can’t remember ever meeting him or telling him about your idea. This depresses you and you start drinking heavily again.
  1. When you return to your neighborhood liquor store you find the man you’ve been avoiding leaning against the wall, smoking a menthol cigarette, glaring at you. He holds a leash tethered to the cutest pit bull puppy you’ve ever seen. The man tells you that you are co-owner of the dog. You have responsibilities now.
  1. Shit! You were supposed to have at least one book published before you became a dog owner. But alas, this is life generously offering more useful material. Many great writers were also dog owners, even if most were largely absent from their animals’ lives. You start to wonder if you have any talent at all and if you should just give up and move back to your hometown. But you’re too determined to admit defeat so instead you give notice to your roommates and move in with the co-custodian of your dog.
  1. A few days later he tells you he wants to move to the suburbs where you won’t have to schlep the dog and all of his toys and treats on the subway to and from doggy daycare each day (which you also can’t afford) and where the dog can chase squirrels and frolic in the bright and boundless aisles of Walmart, but to this you put your foot down. You are now even more committed to writing and to surviving in New York. It’s absolutely imperative that you stay in close proximity to the literary powerhouses who hold your fate like the sunken olives in their gold-rimmed martini glasses. You have to remain close to them so they may continue to ignore you and force you to suffer in agony so that you will never run out of material for your writing.
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